Thursday, May 29, 2014

Defining Your Style

I am always searching for a way to describe my art, my style in a few words or less. I figure I have about a minute to convince someone who does not "get it" to give me a second, closer look. So many of the good descriptors for art style are overused or just plain do not fit. I recently came across a brilliant book which offers an approach to help you find and express your style in a 2 WORD statement! The clincher is that this is a statement that encompasses all aspects of your life - clothing, home, spiritual...."It guides you to discover the two profoundly descriptive words that capture your essence....The first word represents your foundation, your 80%. the second word is your creative edge - the 20% of your image that motivates and distinguishes you."

Style Statement by Carrie McCarthy and Danielle LaPorte
Once you get down to the most likely combination, you "try it on" and see if it fits into all aspects of your life in another series of prompts. There is a certain inner peace that happens when something fits so right. It became clear to me how useful it is - to prevent those disasterous clothing purchases at the very least!
I highly recommend the book and invite discussion here and on Facebook. I know you want to know my Style Statement.........

I am: 
Simple Harmony

What is your Style Statement?

A short note to let you know that I am deep into working on my book. I want to keep the artwork close to the vest, so it is fresh and inspiring. I will do my best to tease you with things in progress and I am also beginning work on 3 large paintings, so more to come! In the meantime...

 Peace and Harmony


Saturday, May 17, 2014

The Ride of Life

Life is really a rollercoaster. You travel along doing your thing, planning and grinding up the hills working toward goals. Just when you hit the top the bottom drops out and you are swept up in what is happening right this minute. I am feeling a bit like that right now. I have had a health "glitch"  and am holding on and working to get things back to normal again.

The thing that has been the most remarkable for me, is the amazing nature and nurture of the TRIBE - all those folks you interact with day-to-day that rally around in a crisis and wrap you in their arms. Some folks you know really well and some who have that gift of empathy and are not afraid to open their arms to you, even if you are not close. I have found that most creative people are very in touch with their feelings and the feelings of others. I can only guess it is in our ability to express ourselves, no matter what medium we use, that makes it easier for us to spread the joy around.  I extremely grateful for this and for the ability to use my creativity as a safe place to go where all doubts and worry are banned.  Be proud that you are part of the TRIBE. 




The greatest healing therapy is friendship and love.
Hubert H. Humphrey, Jr.


Friday, April 18, 2014

Birthday Week

It is my birthday this week. Not a major birthday, just another birthday. I am celebrating it by preparing for the birth of my next grandchild. He is due in the next few days, so we will be sharing the month for celebrations. I decided I wanted to do a mural for his room, (yes it is a boy!) but my daughters house is four hours away. I did the next best thing... a portable mural 20" x 48". There was not much wall space so it had to be narrow.
I wanted to share with you my process.....some of the photos are not great, but you can see how I changed my mind as I went on....
Stablio Pencil on unstretched canvas...I was fighting with the curling canvas! Hard to see the bear in the tree trunk and a "fox" to the right.

Added collage and texture. I used text from an old schoolbook about being "good". I changed the fox to an otter - my son in laws request. To save time I did an image transfer instead of drawing (and re-drawing)

Here is the close up of the added texture. I used a strip of textured wall paper and gel medium through a stencil to simulate a tree trunk. 

Blurry IPhone photo, but wanted to show the first stages of painting. I used inexpensive Blick paint - Red, Yellow, Blue and white. All the colors were mixed from them. I changed out the bear for a rabbit and the car on the branch became a zepplin....
Here is the finished piece.

Close up of the bunny and otter.

My version of a happy monster....not too scary. Only the best for my new grandson!

Monday, March 31, 2014

Training for Failure

One of the biggest challenges as a teacher of art is when a student takes a risk and says "I ruined it!" Failure ...an ugly word. We have all been there, loving what we are working on then doing something and DISASTER... We have heard, repeatedly, that there are no mistakes in art, only opportunities. As you gaze at your piece, it does not feel like an "opportunity" it feels like a failure. It should have worked, but it didn't. 

Even after years of art experience and many paintings, I still have those disaster moments. One of them happened today. I posted a photo of this painting on Facebook...

I photograph all my paintings before I put varnish on them to avoid the glare in the photo. I thought the painting was done. I varnished it and went to bed. When I arrived at the studio I found this....

I had used red alcohol ink at some point in the background and the varnish reactivated it!

Here is a close up...of course it was the face and there is nothing to be done, the ink will continue to rise to the surface...

I lamented over it for a bit and walked away, lesson learned about alcohol ink and how it behaves. I started thinking that this can be a good thing, something to use to its advantage in the future. When I came back I decided to embrace the piece as it is. The red on the face is like a mysterious tattoo and it fades away enough so it does not look like a bullseye on her face (my first impression) It also gives the piece a looser, raw look that I am striving for, so after some self talk the "failure" has become a gift.  
I look at this example as training for my reaction to failure. Training myself to take a deep breath and turn a negative into a positive. It is how I want to respond to challenges in my art and life and I am sure that there will be plenty of training opportunities in my future! 

How do you approach your art when something goes wrong? I would love to hear....

Friday, March 21, 2014

Storytellers

We are all storytellers. We tell our stories in words and pictures everyday. Just spend a few minutes on Facebook and notice that every word and picture is a story unfolding. When I finish a painting I have hopes that there is a story there. Sometimes they shout out and sometimes they hide from me. I just finished a series of  3 small paintings. I worked on all of them at the same time and each painting revealed what it wanted to be pretty quickly. I did my "shape-searching" and found shapes that made me want to keep going and see them to the finish.
I showed all three paintings to my husband and a friend on separate occasions. Both picked out the same painting and said "there is a story there." It is a mystery that I will continue to chip away at, why some paintings speak to people and others do not....here are the three paintings....





 I would love to hear your comments about which (if any) one makes you think....
"There is a story...."




Tuesday, February 25, 2014

New Classes and 5 Reasons to love INK!

I have finalized my teaching schedule through September. I am doing a Mixed Media series at my studio in Grants Pass, OR. I have decided to work my way through some of my favorite mediums and see how far we can take them. For more information on my studio classes you can click on the links above. I will also be teaching at CREATE- Chicago in August and Art-Is-You - Petaluma in September. Art-Is-You registration is open now, so check it out. As soon as Create Chicago goes live, I will post my classes here on the blog.
The first class will be Mixed Media Play with INK, so I though I would share some of reasons I am so in love with ink.

No. 1: Even simple india ink, a bamboo skewer and copy paper can make something unexpected....

No. 2: The color of ink is really saturated and you can do amazing things with black and white or color:


No. 3: Because ink is fluid, you can do amazing things on fabric:
Acrylic ink and Walnut ink on raw canvas with a few pencil details added.
No. 4: Acrylic Ink works great on top of gesso - gives the surface a watercolor effect when diluted and dries permanent, so you can keep working without fear of reactivating it.

No: 5: Drawing with ink is my all time favorite because it takes my control away. 

Here is a progression of my recent painting. I used unstretched, gessoed canvas 24"x 30" and sewed pockets in the top and bottom to receive a dowel. This way it can be hung without expensive framing. I applied collage and texture to the surface and then drew my character with the dropper:
Worked on the floor then lifted it for drips....

Mid painting process with just black and white paint and more ink.
Finished piece...I think!




Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Re-Imagining

I am having fun "re-imagining" old artwork and playing with new concepts. Here is another before and after:
This is a piece I did back in 2011. The face is pretty bizarre...even for my standards. I loved the body, eyes and the 2 birds on the head, so it was tricky to work around the painting. I added a book page to cover up the bottom part of the face to make it easier to paint, then added a new figure's face who worked better with the winged body. At one point I painted over the turquoise with orange, hated it, painted a warm grey over it and sanded it back a bit so the orange showed through.
Here it is a few stages past that...already dramatically different. The pigtails on the main figure came about because of the odd line at the top of the head. I had to keep it if I wanted to keep the birds!
I painted over the other bird - it was distracting me. I did not like the nose and went a bit crazy trying to fix it. Somehow the turquoise crept back into the face....
I move the nose over a bit....Here is the final piece:
At least I think so....I am going to let it sit a bit, before I varnish it.

My take away from this exercise:
Each painting has something new to teach me.
Keep at it until you love it again.
Many layers make for a much richer background.
Love turquoise, orange and gray together.
When you can't make it work, cover it up with collage or paint!

When things are drying, I try to work on journal pages. I am still getting used to the handmade paper in the leather journal I picked up. It is becoming clear that I need to just relax and not try to control the surface. I have sketchbooks for drawing. This is becoming my "get loose" book.
Here are a couple of pages:
Watercolor and collage

Medium resist and watercolor
Playing with which watercolor set I like best ended up being  really fun.
The Ultimate in RE-IMAGINING

Stay Curious!